Lightbulb moment: Well hello there, highly sensitive child

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I’ve always suspected that my little girl was not average. Right from the newborn days, there was an alertness and intensity in her eyes. She was always a high needs type, easily ruffled, would go through every developmental leap with a sort of incredible hulk combustion moment, would break every new tooth with the most monumentous amount of suffering. New milestones were consistently hit months beforehand, and when her language started coming – by gosh – did it come! as we marvelled at the complexity of some of the words falling out of her mouth at 20 months….

I’m not saying she is a toddler genius or anything, it’s just that when I looked around, she seemed to be operating on a different level to many others her age, and sometimes even older. Other mothers, people leading classes and so on always commented on how switched on she is.

She has been and still is, very hard work. The good times are amazing, the bad times are catastrophic – she doesn’t do things by half, and I had always put that down to her just being a very intense but wonderful little girl. I think some people, as well as myself, could not understand why she could be just so sensitive…

That was until I recently stumbled upon a piece during the Mummy Bloggers Mummy Monday blog hop entitled Understanding a Highly Sensitive Child (see here). It was as if I’d had one of those rare lightbulb moments. Now I’m not one for labels, but I had no idea that such a thing as a “Highly Sensitive Child” or “HSC” even existed, although funnily enough my own mother has remarked countless times on how highly sensitive our little lady is.

And now it all makes total sense.

Apparently 15-20% of children are born highly sensitive. But what does this actually mean? Further digging unearthed author of The Highly Sensitive Child, Dr Elaine N. Aron, a psychologist specializing in high sensitivity, who explains them as “children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others.”

This certainly explained my little one, and any doubt in my mind was quickly put to bed when I took her “Is Your Child Highly Sensitive” questionnaire (here). Children scoring 13 or more in the affirmative are likely to be highly sensitive. Well, my girl scored 17 so what next?

Well, this has hugely started to change the way I think about things. I’ve always sensed that our little one has needed so much more and has experienced things very intensely, but I always thought that must have somehow been our own doing by not being the most laid back of parents, or perhaps other factors bouncing around in my own imagination. Now I understand it’s a trait that’s fully part of her own make up, something that’s been within her from birth.

But that’s certainly no bad thing – according to the author of the Happy Sensitive Kids blog, Amanda van Mulligen “HSCs grow up to be the artists, the musicians, the peacemakers amongst us. They have an affinity to the natural world, to animals and living, growing things. They are conscientious (there is a reduced chance that I will spend time nagging my son to do his homework in later years) and have an innate sense of justice and right and wrong. They are creative. They are emotionally tuned into the world around them. They are intuitive. They are incredibly caring, affectionate,  and loving, as well as wise for their years.”

So I guess that means I will be parenting with more mindfulness and understanding, and that I will have to work on that patience problem of mine (see my earlier post – Mum on the blink: Patience is not a virtue I possess here).

It also means that I’ll be having a good old nosy through then The Highly Sensitive Child book by Dr Elaine N. Aron,to learn more about the important issues of having this wonderfully sensitive being in my life.

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32 comments

  1. Aww, that light bulb moment is one of the best moments of parenting. It helps so much to know how. Then you can deal with the how. I am so glad you stumbled over me online and I am looking forward to seeing your journey progress! Thank you so much for sharing my words 🙂 – I’ll be sharing with the HSK community for sure!

    • Hi Amanda thank YOU! Yes the lightbulb moment has helped greatly but have been doing quite a lot of retrospective kicking myself which I guess is par for the course! Thanks for sharing with the community and for shining your light & wisdom!

      • Absolutely. Once the puzzle is in place I think we all as parents wonder how the picture wasn’t obvious whilst we had so many of the pieces in our hands. But that is absolutely part of growing as a parent I am sure!

  2. Such an interesting post! I haven’t heard of this before, but makes me think my nephew may be similar to your daughter. He has always been very clever, kind and in touch with his emotions – he will often tell me he misses me. Yet he can be the most terrible toddler! It’s like a switch. My son, however, will happily walk beside me without running away, yet screams and cries over simple things like juice cups being the wrong colour. It’s so strange how different situations can affect them in different ways. Great post xx #mummymonday

    • Glad you liked the post…I know I hadn’t heard about it either! Sounds like your nephew is just like my daughter..it can be hugely rewarding and amazing at times but absolutely disastrous at others..We all just need to understand and accept ours for what they are, and once we do, it’s so much easier! Thanks for stopping by x

  3. This was a really interesting read. Before I had kids, I thought they’d just be quite similar to me and similar to each other, of course not! It is tricky to learn how to ‘get on’ with some children I think, when they are so different to you #mummymonday

  4. This is so interesting, thanks for sharing. I took the test and already my nine month old is scoring five … I’d never heard of it but it seems to fit so well. The other babies in our little group always seem so chilled, when mine will cry at the slightest thing some days and be incredibly happy at other times. I’ll be showing my husband this!
    Alana
    #twinklytuesday
    http://www.babyholiday.wordpress.com

  5. This is really interesting Talya..sounds just like my little boy and I’ve always thought he seems very emotionally advanced compared to his little friends. He’s so sensitive to everything! New situations, surprises, anything unexpected happening, all really bother him. The question in the quiz about scratchy clothing made me laugh too…I’ve given up buying anything wool and most of the time he refuses to wear jumpers!! I can already tell my 6 month old girl is totally different and doesn’t have this uber sensitive nature…phew! I sympathise as it can be bloody hard work to deal with! Good to know he will hopefully grow into a conscientious, creative soul as he gets older. xx

  6. This was really interesting – there were quite a few that I ticked that makes he think he is a little bit in between. Isn’t the blogging world great that you have discovered this 🙂 I’m going to check out that one Yvette has popped up there too! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  7. My husband has calls my daughter emotional. I think he is right. She is a lot like me, very emotional. I’m not sure though if she’s highly sensitive (as described above). Some days I think she may be, some days I think she’s fine. Most days though I pray that she’s a tougher cookie than I am and sometimes I think she is! Then again, our daughters are still young. Here’s to hoping that they get thicker skin as they grow up! 🙂 #sharewithme.

  8. Lovely Post! I also have a highly sensitive child and it can be challenging to know how best to meet their unique needs. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this, it sounds so much like my toddler Oliver. He has always seemed very sensitive and really picks up on people’s emotional’s, I find it quite exhausting at times. I’m off to do the questionnaire.
    Becky xx
    #sharewithme

  10. This is a really interesting read and something that should be made aware of more. I had never heard about it until I had read this post. I took the test for myself, and well to be fair not overly shocked that I came out quite high scored with over over 20!!!

    thanks so much for joining in on #mummymonday 🙂 love, Gemma – host xo
    http://www.sunshineonacloudyday.co.uk

    • Hi Gemma, glad you found it interesting….wow 20! Funny isn’t it, I also took the questionnaire myself and then realised that I am also HLC…something I didn’t realise but now also explains some things! Thanks for hosting as always x

  11. This is why I love blogging so much you can help spread the word and find out things that you have never heard of before or need support for. It’s good to find out so you can help support your child the best way possible. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  12. This is why I love linkys and blogging to come across posts like this. Brilliant. I have heard of it but have never come across it although I do wonder sometimes with my youngest as he sounds similar. #bigfatlinky

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